BOSTON — Dick Hoyt, who inspired thousands of runners, fathers and disabled athletes by pushing his son, Rick, in a wheelchair in dozens of Boston Marathons and hundreds of other races, has died, a member of the family said Wednesday.
He was 80.
Dick passed away quietly in his sleep at his Holland, Massachusetts, home on Wednesday morning, Russ Hoyt, another of his sons, told The Associated Press.
“He had an ongoing heart condition that he had been struggling with for years and it just got the better of him,” Russ Hoyt said.
Russ and his other brother, Rob, broke the news to Rick.
“He’s sad, as we all are, but he’s OK,” Russ said. “You could see it in him, it was like someone hit him.”
Dick Hoyt first pushed his son, who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, in the Boston Marathon in 1980. Dick and Rick, in a specialized wheelchair, completed 32 Boston Marathons together, until Dick, citing health issues, retired in 2014. He had planned on retiring after the 2013 race, but the father and son never finished because of that year’s finish line bombing, so they came back one more time.
The Boston Athletic Association, which runs the marathon, called Hoyt a legend.
“The B.A.A. is tremendously saddened to learn of the passing of Boston Marathon icon Dick Hoyt,” the organization said in a statement. “Dick personified what it meant to a be a Boston Marathoner, showing determination, passion, and love every Patriots Day for more than three decades. He was not…